Yesterday was April Fools’ Day, a non-public holiday celebrated in many parts of the world as dedicated to playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes. I expect some in the United States may have missed it, for during the media extravaganza known as US Presidential campaign season every day seems filled with fools—albeit replacing practical jokes with dirty tricks and hoaxes with outright lies.
Rather than giving examples of what I mean—and thus contributing to the mind-numbing madness—I thought I’d just make a brief mention of the origins of AFD, and a few cartoons tied to that day which may shed some light on where the country stands.
But first a bit of background. Playing pranks on a set day goes back to ancient Roman, Indian, and Medieval times. According to Wikipedia (yes, I actually cite Wiki) it’s the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale” in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392) that gets credit for singling out April 1st, though some cultures adhere to a different prank-playing date, e.g., December 28 in Spain and Hispanic America.
As for what is considered the greatest April Fools’ Day hoax of all time, I’m sure we all have our favorites—mine being a several decades ago completely made up version of The New York Times—but according to a site listing the “Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time,” here’s the one it considers the greatest of all time (and here’s a link to the video broadcast):
#1 The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
April 1, 1957: The respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.” Even the director-general of the BBC later admitted that after seeing the show he checked in an encyclopedia to find out if that was how spaghetti actually grew (but the encyclopedia had no information on the topic). The broadcast remains, by far, the most popular and widely acclaimed April Fool's Day hoax ever, making it an easy pick for number one.
|Hard working Swiss spaghetti harvesters|
By the way, for those of you who might be wondering why there is a photo of singing star Bruno Mars at the top of this post—and wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates cap no less— the simple answer is I’m pandering to my almost three-year-old granddaughter who said all she wants for her birthday is for me to bring Bruno Mars to her party today. So, what’s a grandpa to do in the face of such cuteness but hustle up a bit of razzamatazz in the hope it gets her to see I tried. I know, don’t bet on it.
Something else I can tell you not to bet on: A truly funny cartoon tied to our distinguished crew of presidential candidates. There’s a lot of harsh, biting, rabidly partisan stuff out there, but honestly none that made me smile in any proud way, and destined only to get worse, much worse, as we wend on toward November.
Frankly, I think there’s a better chance of my getting Bruno Mars to come to the birthday party than a true laugh out of anything having to do with this campaign. Nevertheless, here’s the best of what I could find portraying our nation’s Republican and Democratic candidates in an April Fools’ sort of non-nasty way.
|Cruz showing off his faux Churchill tattoo|
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RACHEL.